Best practices at three firms

Published March 18, 2007

TECO Energy

Tampa's power company is on the hunt for more women and minorities interested in skilled jobs such as electrician, welder and lineman. To boost recruiting, TECO distributes to school guidance counselors a package of baseball-type cards with photos of employees, descriptions of jobs and salary ranges.


At Verizon, there are 10 company-funded employee resource groups, including groups for women, veterans, gays and lesbians, American Indians, and employees concerned with disability issues.

Christopher Luis, the company's director of diversity, said two keys to retaining valued women and minority employees are helping them with work-life balance and making sure they feel valued and respected.

"People feel included because they feel they are valued at work," he said. "They're listened to. We emphasize respect and integrity. You don't shout at somebody. Certain behaviors are just not acceptable."

He said the company uses surveys to gauge how well it is doing.


When HCA needs a new chief operating officer for one of its hospitals, it knows just where to look: its own COO development program. The program currently has 39 participants, 41 percent of whom are minorities and 38 percent women, chosen for their potential to succeed at a high level.

Aisha Noble, 28, and headed to St. Petersburg's Northside Hospital next month, is one of them. Recruited out of Virginia Commonwealth University, where she got her master's in health administration, Noble is learning what it takes to be a hospital executive.

"The program offers tremendous benefits," she said. "You get focused attention from seasoned executives, and you learn what your strengths and weaknesses are. There are not many opportunities in the industry for young professionals to serve on an executive level."

Participants spend two to five years working as an "associate administrator" while being mentored by a hospital chief executive or chief operating officer. They get hands-on experience in operations, construction project management, compliance, contracting and other areas. They also participate in seminars and get to know top administrators.

Noble has been part of the program for two of her four years at HCA, working in Denver and Wichita. Hiring executives are encouraged to look first at participants considered ready for promotion. So far, about a third of those promoted to COO have been minorities. The program attracts 1,000 to 1,500 applicants each year from both inside and outside HCA.